Updated: 3 June 1999 Morning Briefings


3 June 1999

Morning Briefing

By Jamie Shea

Jamie Shea: Ladies and gentlemen, good morning, welcome. Let me say that when I have finished this off-camera briefing I will be followed by Ambassador Kuku, the Ambassador from Albania; as you know, he comes along from time to time - and I am grateful to him - to update you on the situation as seen from his perspective so he will follow me in about 10 minutes.

As always, I believe you will have received by now the magic piece of paper which gives you the essential details of last night's operations. You will have seen that yesterday we flew 644 sorties which included 239 strike and 69 suppression-of-air-defence missions and I am glad once again to be able to say that all of the aircraft returned safely.

Yesterday, during the missions, the main effort was against the VJ and MUP forces on the ground in Kosovo and primary attacks on the ground included attacks on armoured personnel carriers and artillery pieces and a counter-battery radar near Djakovica. We also engaged VJ troops in the open, including tanks and armour and military vehicles near Prizren and Suva Reka. We also engaged a number of assembly areas with tanks, troops, armour and artillery near the Mount Pastrik area - that as you know by now is the area near the Albanian border where intensive fighting between the UCK and the Serb forces has been taking place in recent days but as you have seen also from the list this morning, we also struck a number of targets elsewhere in Yugoslavia.

I think you have all of the details there and with that I am happy to go straight to questions.

Questions & Answers

Mark Laity, BBC: Could you elaborate as far as you can on the talks in Belgrade? The Russians have come out with statements about Russian forces reporting to Russia and NATO forces reporting to NATO. What does this actually mean?

Is this the Bosnia model or is there a more formal separation which would go beyond that and lead to the fear of partition? Has there been any agreement on something like the timetable? How detailed is this common approach?

Jamie Shea: Mark, I am not going to comment on the diplomatic efforts because they are not being conducted from here as you well know and I don't think it would be appropriate for me to comment on those diplomatic efforts. We will get the reports and will assess them in due course.

As far as the force is concerned, our position is well known which is that we want a force that is efficient, effective, robust with NATO at its core and with robust command-and-control arrangements. We would like Russia to participate in that force but that is something of course that will have to be discussed at the appropriate time. As the Secretary General pointed out when he was in Berlin yesterday, the Bosnian model is one that has worked very successfully for four years now and that could be the model that we could look at but of course these discussions with Russia are ongoing, they have not concluded yet but our position is clear: we believe that this international security force should have NATO at its core and have effective command-and-control arrangements.

John: To follow that up, Jamie, are you therefore saying that Russian participation will be on NATO's terms?

Jamie Shea: No. This is an ongoing discussion, John, and we will get it successfully concluded at the appropriate time.

Question: How will NATO get a report, Jamie, of the discussions and of any results that come out of Belgrade?

Jamie Shea: My understanding is that President Ahtisaari, when he does leave Belgrade, will report of course to the European Union summit in Cologne but I am certain that NATO will be briefed in due course - when something happens I'll let you know.

Question: by Mr. Ahtisaari?

Jamie Shea: That's my understanding, that he will go to speak to the EU. I think that is widely known, I am not telling you anything you don't know already and there are no plans to my knowledge for that to happen at the moment.

Question: Do you have details of why the first air-drop mission failed?

Jamie Shea: Yes but the only information I have is that one of the flights did not leave because of a lack of equipment for air traffic control - I am not familiar with all of the details - and the aircraft that did leave apparently was unable to drop its food supplies for technical reasons but I don't have all the details. All I do know is that the plane did return safely to its airfield and wasn't fired at apparently and of course that is good news but you will have to ask the International Rescue Committee organisers directly what happened during today's first flight.

Greg Palcott, FOX News: It might be speculation again, you might want to back off but on the bombing halt would NATO accept something that has been discussed, that is that if after about five or six days NATO sees that Yugoslav troops, Serb forces, are leaving Kosovo, it wouldn't take a complete withdrawal to stop the bombing, it would take a concerted effort by Serb forces to leave?

Jamie Shea: Greg, you're absolutely correct. I am not going to speculate. NATO has made it clear that the ending of operation Allied Force depends on the fulfilment of the five conditions. The five conditions are still there, they haven't been watered down, they haven't been tampered with, they are still the only acceptable conditions for resolving this crisis and for leading to a stop of the operation so it is the five conditions and the effective implementation of those five conditions which are still, if you like, the guiding star in determining our future decisions.

Question: Could you confirm that NATO planes will be flying from Turkish bases from today?

Jamie Shea: No. I don't know if they are going to operate from today. As you know, there have been provisions, which the Turkish government has announced, for a number of NATO aircraft to operate from Turkish bases but I'm not aware exactly when they will become operational. We will try to clarify that for you later on.

Julie: Jamie, the New York Times was reporting today that SACEUR was asked not to come to a briefing at the White House where the Pentagon brass was supposed to review the options for the air strikes and whatever other options they are looking at. It suggests that the implication was that the President didn't want General Clark there because his views may be too hawkish. Could you comment on that?

Jamie Shea: No, I couldn't comment on that, Julie. I have no information on that whatever.

Margret Evans, CBC: I just wondered if you knew for sure whether Strobe Talbott will be coming to NATO today?

Jamie Shea: I don't have any information on that at the present time, Margaret. I understand he is still in Bonn but if I have anything on that, I'll let you know but nothing has been finalised.

John: Where is Mr. Solana today and will he be going to Cologne?

Jamie Shea: The Secretary General is here, he's just a few feet away in his office. He has got a busy day by the way, he is receiving the former Japanese Prime Minister, Mr. Hashimoto later on this morning and has several other appointments in the course of the day and I am not aware at the moment, John, of any plans for him to go to the EU summit.

Thank you very much and I will be here with Colonel Freytag at 3 o'clock.

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